new york's finest

An NYPD Union Meeting Almost Turned Into an All-Out Brawl

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Pat Lynch has been the subject of a lot of outside criticism lately, what with the shouting about how Mayor de Blasio has “blood on his hands” and his (possible) role in the recent NYPD work stoppage. Now it seems that he’s facing anger from the cops whose interests he claims to represent. 

The New York Daily News reports that an argument at a recent PBA meeting in Queens turned physical, with “pushing, shoving and lots of screaming” at Lynch. According to the tabloid, around 100 of the 350 people in attendance were angry over Lynch’s focus on forcing de Blasio to apologize for “not supporting” the NYPD when many cops are more worried about practical measures to improve their safety. “This is what my members want!” one officer reportedly shouted. “They want more cars, better vests, more manpower! They don’t want an apology.” 

Sources told the Daily News that some union members also demanded to know what Lynch and his fellow NYPD union bosses had discussed with de Blasio and police commissioner Bill Bratton at their December 30 sit-down. Others seemed to feel that PBA leaders hadn’t been clear with them on how to handle the apparent end of the work stoppage. The conversation reportedly ended when Lynch stormed out of the room. 

Later, Lynch blamed the unpleasantness on “a few agitators bent on their own self-agendas.” But even the New York Post, which is usually fairly sympathetic to the PBA chief, characterized the incident as a “blowout.” “Patty is losing control of the union. That’s the bottom line,” said a source. 

Interestingly, witnesses claimed that Lynch’s defenders generally hail from Manhattan, while the group of so-called “agitators” are mostly from the Bronx or Brooklyn. According to the Daily News’ Juan Gonzalez, the mention of the cops’ respective boroughs might be a not-so-coded reference to some larger divisions within the department: “The PBA is not the same union that first elected Lynch back in 1999. Black, Latino and Asian officers are now a majority of city cops. Many are critical of previous stop-and-frisk policies and the targeting of minority youth for quality-of-life arrests.”

Damon Jones, the head of the local chapter of Blacks in Law Enforcement, told Gonzalez that Lynch was “a throwback to Archie Bunker” who “keeps denying that there’s a problem,” despite the fact that nonwhite NYPD officers have complained about being racially profiled by their own colleagues while off-duty. 

Perhaps most important, there are concerns about Lynch’s failure to negotiate a new PBA contract without bringing the matter to a state arbitrator. (The union and the city have now gone five years without an agreement.) Lynch, who has been in charge of the PBA for 15 years, is up for reelection in June. And, Gonzalez writes, for the first time since 2003, he can probably expect a challenger. 

NYPD Union Meeting Almost Turned Into a Brawl